Made for another world, but not like Lewis intended

I took the liberty of removing myself from a Christian blog group today, because I don’t have an “off” button when responding to theological viewpoints I find triggering; particularly the “God saved me from” rhetoric. I figured it was only a matter of time before the moderators removed me anyway.

Maybe it’s impossible to critique a religious viewpoint without sounding as if you are critiquing the person holding it, because faith is integral to a Christian’s identity. I get that. And the internet isn’t always the best venue for these discussions, when tone and inflection are lost behind a screen. I never know if the fault is the group itself, for being unable to handle dissension and disagreement no matter how politely stated, or if it’s just me, and not coming across as polite as I intend to be.

But even if the issue is me, homogeneity saturates Church culture, particularly evangelical church culture. Introduce yourself at a young adult bible study, and it will, in many cases, be assumed that you hold the same beliefs, attitudes, and convictions as everyone else. This has never been the case in Judaism (the kind I grew up in, anyway). In many, many Christian communities, disagreement can feel like a betrayal: What do you mean it was doctors, not God, who healed my cancer? How dare you.

This is why I read more skeptic blogs than Christian ones these days. They don’t share my faith anymore, but they get where I’m coming from and why I feel the way that I do about certain things. They don’t try to “fix” me with more bible verses and personal testimonies of what God has done for them.

Maybe the problem is that I’m too harsh and insensitive to others’ feelings, too judgmental because I’ve experienced certain things they haven’t, or too self-righteous because I spent ONE WHOLE YEAR at seminary and now I know everything. Whatever it is, one fact remains: because I grew up Jewish, I am automatically at a disadvantage for viewing things the same way that other (most?) Christians do. Old habits are tough to break, but old worldviews installed in childhood are even harder.
 
It’s not impossible to find community with people who have profoundly different life experiences and viewpoints than I do, but it is difficult. For all the reminders from well-meaning friends that I “just haven’t found my people yet,” it’s sure easy to get burned out trying.
 
Do I accept that I’ll never completely fit in, and keep my mouth shut? Do I continue being honest about my disagreements at the risk of hurting feelings and being dismissed? Such hard questions. Such desperately needed wisdom.
 
tat2You know, I originally tattooed the words “Made for another world,” paraphrasing C.S. Lewis, as a way to remind myself that the hardships I face in this world can’t compare to the glory that awaits on the other side. But true to pattern, apparently, I don’t read those words the same way anymore, and that ink is only three years new. But by being born to Jewish parents, I literally was “Made for another world.”
The years I spent struggling to embrace that fact aren’t over, and the self-made, tongue-in-cheek identifier “Jew-ish Skeptic” feels more accurate with every passing day.
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About Beth Caplin

Just an author, blogger, and editor working hard so my cats can have a better life.
This entry was posted in Theology, Writing & Publishing and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Made for another world, but not like Lewis intended

  1. What an absolutely astonishing number of people who are totally convinced that your problem (such as they see it) is that you’re doing something wrong.

    If the recipe’s wrong, then the cake won’t come out right no matter how good the baker is. The thing that ought to be scaring them is the vast number of people who come away from Christianity thinking more like you do. As tempting as it is to think that all those teeming millions are “doing it wrong,” one would hope the accusers involved would eventually wonder why an omnimax and loving god would make his religion so easy to get so wrong for so many. Maybe it’s easier to make accusations and speculations and busywork suggestions. Jesus is, after all, even nicknamed the Great Accuser. Oh wait….

    Liked by 3 people

    • ratamacue0 says:

      Jesus is, after all, even nicknamed the Great Accuser.

      It seems you’re being sarcastic here – I believe Satan is supposed to be the accuser – but I’m missing the point you’re making.

      Like

      • You’re quite correct – that was sarcasm. Jesus is NOT the accuser – Satan is, in that mythology. That’s why I’m always astonished to see Christians rush willy-nilly to make accusations of everyone in sight. If I believed in a mythology that had a great and dread enemy called “the Accuser,” I’d be stepping very carefully indeed around making unfounded (and usually false) accusations. But that’s just me, maybe.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Am I Thirty? says:

    I am not a religious person at all. I grew up Catholic but would never call myself a Catholic today. I have a lot of issues with religions, particular the Christian faith. (I only say the Christian faith as it’s the one I’m most familiar with.) One of my biggest issues is how incredibly one-sided the thinking is. Everyone has the same exact way of thinking and there is absolutely no debating when it comes to their views. It seems like a very black and white way of viewing the world. I have been reading your blog for awhile now and while I don’t always agree with everything, I always respect what you have to say. You have your convictions but also recognize that your way of thinking isn’t automatically the way that everyone else should be thinking. I feel that if more Christians, and people in general, thought the way you did and were able to listen to opposing viewpoints, the world would be a much better place.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sarahbeth,

    I found your post interesting, and I comment with the caveat I haven’t read anything else on your blog (yet). My first impression is that you either don’t like what Christianity is at its core – the very mettle of being Christian, the exclusivity of it – OR you are averse to the new brand of “experience based” Christianity we see in today’s culture. If the latter, I’m with you on that front, though I am not a skeptic toward Christianity at large.

    As someone with a religion degree myself, I am continually frustrated by how “faith” is little more than a buzzword in today’s culture. God does indeed work powerfully in this world; if He didn’t, He would not be who He claims to be in Scripture, and Christianity itself would be baseless and false. But God expects a kind of bold, brazen faith, one that takes action and has influence – not just quoted verses and quick “devotions” and Jesus checked off a list. Today’s Christianity is largely ignorant and foundationless. People know little of the Christ they claim to follow. They know zero theology and “believe” without knowing who it is they’re believing, then wonder why their lives never change. It is this lukewarm Christianity that I find shallow and distasteful, and it’s what I call women out of on my own site.

    I hope you find a “tribe” who can meet what you are looking for. I do think that Christ’s church (church as a broad term, not specific to denomination) is diverse enough for all of us to find that group of people we identify with most, and that’s one reason I love the freedom of it. But this can also be a frustrating journey.

    In Him
    PDM

    Liked by 1 person

    • Beth Caplin says:

      If I didn’t like what Christianity is “at its core,” then why would I detail the struggle of trying to find a faith community to fit into? That would make this post, and dozens more, a complete waste of my time.

      As for the rest of your comment, I completely agree. I hope I find that tribe, too.

      Like

      • Initially I got the impression you may be moving away from Christianity completely, which is why I offered that first conclusion. “Faith community” is defined many ways in today’s world, and I haven’t read a ton of your blog yet, so pardon the misinterpretation. 🙂

        Personally I’ve found a few groups of people (online, primarily) who are dedicated to understanding the theology of Christianity, not just quoting platitudes. Reformed Pub is one, though I don’t completely agree with them in every area.

        I like your tattoo! I have Soli Deo Gloria in the same place.

        Like

        • Beth Caplin says:

          Even if I were moving away from Christianity, it’s not up to you to offer the reason. This blog is (I hope) a place where people can find community and address their theological concerns without fear of the No True Scotsman card being pulled on them. It’s likely that everyone’s understanding of Christianity is flawed in some way, and parts of Christianity can be pretty hard to swallow.

          Liked by 2 people

    • Keri @ Little Light on a Hill says:

      Love this, Phy. I agree that Christianity today is a lot of saying “I’m a Christian” and not a lot of KNOWING who He is and seeing the fruits of that in day to day life. I share the frustration of finding a community of friends that truly know Him and want to look more like Him and long to live a life lead by Biblical beliefs.

      Like

  4. Paul Lee says:

    You are something new and wonderful that this world has scarcely seen. I don’t suppose that we are completely responsible for our beliefs. You have been put into this difficult place by factors you did not choose, and if at every turn your choice of what to believe in was determined by the greatest truth you could honestly appropriate, then I don’t think you’re very much responsible for the way your faith has changed on your journey.

    I don’t think we have to decide exactly what we are, so much. But if you decide that you are not a Christian anymore, I will still believe that you are one who has truly sought the only Light, and in the end I can’t imagine any possible way that those who truly seek truth and grace will not find it. Your difficulty believing may be evidence that faith is more complicated than many people want it to be, but I think your life actually supports the existence of transcendent meaning, very much in the sense of the C.S. Lewis quote.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Deep sigh. If you are up to reading another C.S. Lewis book – I recommend “The Great Divorce.” But really… I share your exasperation (if that’s an accurate way to put it). But more – I suspect you (we) will continue to not fit into this generation’s and this culture’s expression of Christian faith. The good news is: we weren’t made to. And your tattoo “made for another world” has layers of truths to it. As it is, I’m just looking for spiritual friendships that can bear the truth of who I am, and be honest and compassionate enough to journey with me – with and to this unspeakably beautiful person of Jesus.

    Liked by 3 people

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